PREGAME REPORT | MARCH 6, 2013

 



Tipoff: 7:30 p.m. PST | Staples Center | Los Angeles, CA | Game Notes »

                       

ERIC PATTEN

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LOS ANGELES – The Clippers have shown an ability to get back on track all season.

They lost to the Heat in early February, and beat the Knicks on the road two days later. They lost to the Spurs at home, and defeated the Jazz in the game immediately following it. After losing to the Thunder Sunday, the Clippers (43-19) will get the chance to bounce back again, this time against the Milwaukee Bucks (30-28), who have won four straight, including two against Western Conference playoff teams.  

Asked if he expects Wednesday to be a “bounce back” performance, leading Sixth Man of the Year candidate Jamal Crawford said, “Definitely. Even in the same game [we bounced back]. We were down 19 in the second half to a team that went to the Finals last year. We were down and came back and had the lead with a minute and a half to go. If you would have told us before the game we had the lead with a minute and a half left, we’d have taken it. I think we’ll continue to improve as the season closes.”

The Clippers trounced the Bucks on the road in December, 111-85. It was part of their record 17-game winning streak and was arguably as complete of a road performance as the Clippers have put on this season. They had 33 assists and five players in double figures, shot 53.7% and their 26-point win marked the second largest margin of victory on the road by the Clippers since 2009 (they matched it on Jan. 14 versus Memphis).

With the Bucks coming into Los Angeles, though, Jamal Crawford expects them to be looking to even the score so to speak. “In this league you have a short memory but you remember everything. Guys remember games like when you play against a certain team and what happened, so I’m sure they’ll remember that.”

LAST TIME OUT

Thunder 108, Clippers 104: After spotting the Thunder a 19-point, third-quarter lead, the Clippers roared back. They put together a 27-10 scoring run to draw within two and after Russell Westbrook, who scored 29 points, helped give Oklahoma City a 99-93 lead with 1:52 to go, the Clippers answered with a seven-point possession. Matt Barnes connected on a 3-pointer, Blake Griffin knocked down 1-of-2 free throws after Serge Ibaka was called for a flagrant foul, and Crawford buried a 3-pointer from straightaway. The shot gave the Clippers a one-point lead with 1:30 left. However, Oklahoma City scored nine of the final 13 points to pull out the victory at Staples Center.

Chris Paul scored 26 points, Griffin had 20 points and nine rebounds and Crawford had 20 off the bench, but it was not enough to overcome Westbrook’s excellence in the final period, 35 points from Kevin Durant and 21 turnovers (16 in the first half).

“Our turnovers were the difference in the game and we let them get to the free throw line too much,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “Our turnovers, a couple offensive rebounds hurt us. But we battled back and took a one-point lead with 1:30 to go.”

Bucks 109, Jazz 108 (OT): J.J. Redick scored eight points for the Bucks in overtime and Monta Ellis had a game-high 34 points overall on 15-of-21 shooting as the Bucks thwarted the Jazz in Milwaukee. Redick finished with 17 on the game, including the first eight of the final period. After DeMarre Carroll made two free throws to bring the Jazz within one, Ellis nailed a jumper with 14.7 seconds to go and the Bucks ran out the clock after a tip in by Enes Kanter on the following possession. Brandon Jennings added 17 assists for Milwaukee, giving the third-year point guard 36 assists in the last two games. Utah got 23 points and 15 rebounds from Derrick Favors.

NOTEWORTHY MATCHUP

Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups & Jamal Crawford vs. Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis & J.J. Redick. The backcourts for both teams are loaded, especially since Redick was acquired from the Orlando Magic at the trade deadline and Billups returned from peroneal tendinitis in his left foot that cost him 34 games. While Paul and Billups will start opposite Ellis and Jennings, it is arguably the bench matchup between Crawford (first in the league in bench scoring) and Redick (fourth) that could determine the outcome.

Crawford has scored 20 points or more in three consecutive games and Redick, who buried a go-ahead 3-pointer against the Clippers on Jan. 12 when he was still with Orlando, has been fitting in well with his new team.

“[Redick] spaces the floor for [Milwaukee] and opens things up for those guys (Jennings and Ellis) because they have driving angles,” Crawford said.

“You always have to know where [Redick] is,” Del Negro added.

As for Ellis and Jennings, the highest scoring backcourt duo in the league, Crawford said the only way to try and slow the undersized but lightning quick guards is by using “team defense.”

“Monta is an explosive scorer and Brandon Jennings is an explosive scorer as well,” Crawford said. “They’re both willing passers. They’re both racking up assists to each other, so they’re dangerous.”

TWO THINGS TO WATCH

The Bucks in their “offensive” lineup. With Redick, Ellis, Jennings, Ersan Ilyasova and Larry Sanders on the floor, the Bucks are scoring 119.3 points per game in their last three. They average about 12 minutes per game together and have become Head Coach Jim Boylan’s go-to group when in need of offense. The Bucks have topped 100 points in each of their last three games (all wins).

The downside of the lineup is on the defensive end. They have allowed 112 points per game in that same stretch. The Clippers have an ability to score in a hurry and that could pose problematic for the Bucks, with or without their “offensive” lineup.

Complete game. The Clippers have won eight of their last 10 games. In their past five outings, they have not put together four consistent quarters of their best basketball, but still managed four victories. In Indiana a fourth-quarter lull allowed the Pacers to nearly erase a 17-point deficit. Against the Bobcats the Clippers started slowly, with Charlotte opening on a 10-2 run and leading by six after first quarter. And Sunday against the Thunder, the Clippers were down by 19 with less than four minutes left in the third quarter before mounting a comeback.

“We have to do a better job for four quarters. Not just one or two or even three,” Griffin said. “We’ve got to do a better job, whatever it is, defensively or offensively. We have to do a better job of coming together and playing together.”   

NOTES

The Clippers have not won both games of a season series with the Bucks since 2007. They were 1-0 last year, but did not travel to Milwaukee during the lockout shortened season… The Bucks are 6-0 when Ellis and Jennings score 20 points or more in the same game… Both teams are ranked amongst the top 10 in steals per turnover ratio. The Clippers (second) and the Bucks (seventh)… The Clippers are 16-8 against the Bucks since 1999-00… Caron Butler, who is from Racine, Wisconsin, averages 17.9 points per game in 26 career matchups with Milwaukee.